Harvard Gazette Interviews Sarah Richardson About New Book

December 15, 2021
Sarah S. Richardson (Photo by Tony Rinaldo)

The Harvard Gazette has published an interview with Professor Sarah Richardson. In it she discusses her new book, The Maternal Imprint: The Contested Science of Maternal-Fetal Effects, which explores "the untold history of the idea that a woman’s health and behavior during pregnancy can have long-term effects on her descendants’ health and welfare."

In the interview Professor Richardson discusses popular misrepresentations of the growing field of epigenetics, which studies the effect of the environment on genes. Epigenetics, she says, "has been cast in public conversation as something that allows you to shape your own potential and overcome hereditary limitations. This possibility of self-help, of plasticity, and of improvement and optimization walks right into our constantly contested ideas about our bodies.... And then you add the gender part, with women warned that if you eat a single potato chip you could be destining your child to a life of sloth and ADHD — definitely pop-science catnip." 

Professor Richardson directs the GenderSci Lab, an interdisciplinary feminist research group that works to advance the intersectional study of gender in the biomedical and allied sciences, counter bias and hype in sex difference research, and enhance public discourse surrounding the sciences of sex and gender.

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